“Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”
Genesis 2: 1-3
When we study the book of Genesis chapters 1 and 2 we find that everything in all creation was established before God formed mankind. God declared that man was to rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. He commanded Adam and Eve to fill the earth and subdue it. They were to have dominion over God’s creation.
However, the Sabbath was not created before man was formed, but rather it was established after God created man. Man was not created to have dominion over the Sabbath, but instead the Sabbath was created for man! This is precisely what Jesus told the religious leaders of his day in Mark 2:23-28:
“The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”
The Sabbath was established for our benefit, not our dominion. It was not something created for us to control or manipulate. The religious leaders of Christ’s day had buried the beauty of the Sabbath under a pile of man-made rules and regulations. In Luke 13:14, we read about how distraught they had become when Jesus ignored their attempts to harness and use the Sabbath day for their own interests and healed a woman contrary to their man-made regulations:
“Indignant because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, the synagogue ruler said to the people, “There are six days for work. So come be healed on those days, not on the Sabbath.”
However, their false reverence for the Sabbath was exposed when Jesus rebuked them for untying their ox and leading them to water on the Sabbath, while criticizing the good He had done for the woman who had been crippled for 18 years.
Interestingly, Jesus never tried to destroy the principle of Sabbath, but instead He strove to restore it to its original intent as a source of good in people’s lives:
“If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a man than a sheep! There it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”
The Sabbath was established by God for our good, our rest and renewal, but it was a principle that extended beyond just people.
Pastor Scott Burr